Pat Shurmur is one of those rare quarterback whisperers and the Denver Broncos know just that.
Shurmur may not be a flashy name when it comes to offensive coordinators, but Denver needs a new man to fill the recently vacated office at Dove Valley with Rich Scangaragello being fired Sunday. And while Scangarello brought a youthful excitement to the position, Shurmur is the wily, old veteran coach.
There’s no flash, really. There’s not a lot to get excited about when one looks at the New York Giants’ offense in 2019 with Shurmur in charge. But, Daniel Jones was just the latest in a long line of quarterbacks Shurmur has helped enjoy the best year of their NFL lives.
Rewind to 2013 and the Philadelphia Eagles, where Shurmur was technically the offensive coordinator but Chip Kelly was calling the plays. That makes it difficult to pin the Eagles’ success on Shurmur, certainly. But, look at what he did with Nick Foles.
It was only Foles’ second year in the NFL and yet, it was his best ever as a professional quarterback. Foles threw for career-highs in yards (2,891) and touchdowns (27) while possessing an NFL-best 8.5 TD:INT ratio that year. He was also the best quarterback in 2013 in terms of yards per attempt (9.1) as well as quarterback rating (119.2) while going 8-2 as a starter.
Nick Foles even played well in his lone playoff start that season, thanks in part, to Shurmur. And those 2013 Eagles were the fourth-best offense (27.6 PPG) in the league that year.
Fast forward to 2017 and there was Shurmur teaching a familiar face in Case Keenum. Again, Keenum enjoyed a career year with the Broncos’ next likely offensive coordinator in charge.
Keenum was easily the most efficient he’s ever been in the NFL (67.6 completion percentage) with 22 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions. It was also the most yards per game and yards per attempt Keenum has enjoyed in his career.
That year, the Minnesota Vikings were led by the defense, but Shurmur was named AP Assistant Coach of the Year for his efforts.
Now, take one more step for the long-time coach; Shurmur was named the head coach of the New York Giants in 2018.
After that down season, and after starting 2019 0-2, Shurmur made the gutsy move by benching future Hall of Famer Eli Manning and decided to start rookie Daniel Jones instead.
For a rookie, Jones played well with the old man calling his plays and mentoring him off the field. Jones finished his first season with 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions and a strong 61.9 completion percentage. Which would have been a solid season, but keep in mind those numbers were compiled in only 12 starts.
Jones’ strong play points to the fact that Shurmur, even at 54 years old, can still connect with young quarterbacks. It’s just another reason why Denver wants to bring him in.
Their rookie quarterback Drew Lock showed flashes of brilliance under Scangarello, but did the former OC’s dink-and-dunk, old-school attack limit what Lock could have done? Also, it’s worth noting that while Lock was spectacular in the Broncos’ upset victory over the Houston Texans, his other four starts were pedestrian-at-best.
Nevertheless, Broncos fans have crowned Lock the quarterback of the future for their franchise, and he will get at least the entire 2020 season as a second audition. But, could Shurmur help design plays and tutor Lock, allowing him to reach closer and closer to that coveted “elite” status?
That has to be the hope.
With Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay and Noah Fant surrounding him, Lock has elite playmaking talents already. And Denver will be looking to add a legitimate No. 2 receiver to their arsenal this offseason as well.
But, before any of that can happen, the Broncos have to actually hire Shurmur first. His wikipedia page says he was hired by Denver on Sunday, but the franchise has yet to make a formal announcement. Look for that to come this week or not at all.